The Missing Element is the Living God

No one but God can do what God alone can do.

That little circular bit of reasoning is intended to say that when the Lord made you and me, He intentionally reserved a few parts of the puzzle for Himself. Nothing is complete until He enters the picture.

He formed you and me with an itch inside us which He alone can scratch. The idea was to boomerang us back to Him.

He installed a hunger inside our hearts which He alone can satisfy. The plan was to bond us with Him in a tight, permanent, and mutually satisfying relationship.

He left an emptiness within us which He alone can fill. The idea was to help us see how He alone is our life.

He made each of us with a need for which He alone is the supply, a question for which He only is the answer, a searching for which He is the Way.

Venturing into this world, you and I will try many things. Day by day, little by little, step by step, we discover that none of the things we encounter in life touch us very deeply. We amass wealth, but all it does is cling to our outsides like so much velcro; it cannot begin to speak to the hungers and needs and spaces of our inner self.

All our fame and notoriety simply draws attention to our emptiness and lostness; it does not come close to meeting a single need of our true self.

We gain possessions to fill the house and recognition for achievements to adorn the walls, but they do nothing to erase the darkness when we are alone, the gloom when we are quiet, the thirsts when we are honest.

God alone is what’s missing.

Our lives minus God are like castles which dot the European countryside: in place, ready, majestic even. But empty. No royalty anywhere to be found. The glory is gone, if it was ever present.

Manny Ramirez was in the news this morning. This ex-baseballer is in court for abusing his wife. Big, tough, macho outfielder who hit all those home runs for the Red Sox and a smattering of other teams afterwards–and he picks on his little wife. What’s wrong with this man?

What’s wrong is he is discovering that without God, no amount of fame or athletic accomplishments, money in the bank or cars in the driveway amount to anything. It’s just so much clutter until the heart is right.

This is not about “original sin;” it’s about Original Design.

God made us with a homing instinct that would put a carrier pigeon to shame. We were made for fellowship with God and nothing works until we discover that and recapture it.

Ever since the Fall, we have been “sighing for Eden,” some call it. Trying to get back home. Call it a spiritual quest, a search for authenticity, anything you wish. But that’s what it is. Will Willimon wrote a book by the title “Sighing for Eden.” Gary W. Moon wrote one he called “Homesick for Eden.” Same difference.

Larry Crabb wrote, Ever since God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden, we have lived in an unnatural environment, a world in which we were not designed to live. We were built to enjoy a garden without weeds, relationships without friction, fellowship without distance. But something is wrong, and we know it, both within our world and within ourselves. Deep inside we sense we’re out of the nest, always ending the day in a motel room, never at home.

Hungry, empty, lost and searching people sometimes do crazy things.

The Bible calls it sin, wickedness, and evil. This is the dark side to our nature. It’s where we find original sin, if you must know. The enemy has tampered with something good and thrown it off-kilter. So, man, even when doing the best he can, still gets it wrong.

Until He returns to the Blueprint-Maker for directions, his plans will never work. Until He returns to the Creator, his life will always be impaired. Until he turns to the Savior, he will be on an endless quest for the missing center of his existence.

When we sin, we do what comes natural to us, what makes sense. In so doing, we end up hurting other people and we run and hide. But in our guilt, rather than confess and come clean, we stiffen our resolve and do even worse. We end up full-fledged monsters. All of us, even the best among us, have a monster inside.

Many years ago, someone asked Carlyle Marney, “Where is the Garden of Eden?”

This Charlotte, NC, pastor answered, “Two-fifteen Elm Street, Knoxville, Tennessee.”

His inquirer said, “No way. It’s supposed to be somewhere in Asia.”

Marney said, “Well, you couldn’t prove it by me. For there, on Elm Street, when I was but a boy, I stole a quarter out of my Mama’s purse and went down to the store and bought me some candy and I ate it and then I was so ashamed that I came back and hid in the closet. It was there she found me and asked, ‘Where are you? Why are you hiding? What have you done?'”

That’s my story and yours.

Someone has to come and find us. We’re never going to make it by ourselves.

Jesus said, “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so, it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:12-14).

Jesus is our Shepherd. The One who came in search of us.

No one else has come to find us. He alone is the Hunter. He alone knows the way home. He Himself said, No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven; that is the Son of Man who is in heaven (John 3:13). He is our Authority on heaven, since He is a native.

Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

In the house of death where family and friends had gathered to mourn Lazarus’ departure, someone approached a distraught sister with wonderful news: The Master has come and is calling for you (John 11:28). Jesus was on the grounds and would soon banish all tears by raising the dead.

Jesus is here and is calling for you, friend.

That explains so many things:

–the restlessness at night when your heart is uneasy and your mind troubled. Jesus is calling for you, and you need to listen.

–the discomfort you feel in church surrounded by all those people who seem to find joy in hymns which do not speak to you and sermons which miss you entirely. Jesus is calling your name and it is causing you pain.

–the way you cannot wait to get home and quit thinking about that sermon or the scripture. You hastily turn on the television or computer and busy yourself with other things to help you forget. Jesus is calling, and you are hiding.

In the middle of the night, little Samuel kept hearing his name being called. Unable to find the source of that voice, he asked old Eli, the high priest, who recognized what was happening. “Go back to bed,” he said, “and the next time you hear the voice, say, ‘Speak Lord. Your servant is listening.'” (I Samuel 3)

God is here and He is calling for you, friend.

He wants you to wake up and know Him and come to life.

We are so dead, we look at Jesus and think He wants to take away our lives. All He wants to do is to give life.

We are so hungry, we look at Jesus and think He wants our little crusts of bread. He Himself is the Bread of Life.

We are so lost, we think Jesus wants to lead us astray. He wants to show us the way home. He is the Way (John 14:6).

We are so confused, we think Jesus is the enemy. He is the Best Friend Forever we have been searching for all our days.

It’s time now.

Time for us to quit playing these little hide-and-seek games with the Living God. Time to stop our play-acting and get real. Time to admit that nothing we have found outside Him begins to meet any need that matters.

Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts (Hebrews 4:7).

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